Bayli Silberstein, an eighth grader who is bisexual, has been trying to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at her school to help combat the bullying hat she and her friends had been experiencing:
Silberstein’s push for a GSA is in response to anti-gay bullying at the school, according to WFTV. She claims she and her friends were tormented by others for their sexual orientation. “It hurt, and that is something that I did not want to see continuing,” she told central Florida’s ABC local affiliate WFTV. ‘Lake County School Board May Slash All Student Clubs To Blockade Gay-Straight Alliance (UPDATE)’, The Huffington Post, February 2, 2013
The County School Board, though, is less than receptive to Bayli’s idea, claiming that the club is “social engineering” and even going so far as trying to restrict all clubs to those that are only “ciriculum-based” as a way to keep the GSA from forming.
“It’s shocking that a school board would go so far to ban a student club designed to provide a safe and affirming space for all students,” Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director, said in a GLSEN news release on the matter. “Research has consistently shown that GSAs improve school climate and students develop a stronger connection to their school community. By denying access to a GSA, the school board is sending the wrong message that LGBT students are undeserving of the same opportunity to a quality education.” Ibid
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has contacted the Lake County School Board to inform them that they have to let the GSA form under the Equal Access Act.
Bayli has community support as well. Over a hundred people showed up to support Bayli at a School Board meeting to discuss the matter. Still, the Lake County School Board is dragging their feet on the issue. According to WFTV they will now be polling their principals on the matter. Bayli says she believes that the Board is hoping that if she moves onto high school, they will no longer have to deal with the issue. Bayli says she’s not going to let that happen.